In the book Night by Elie Weisel, why did the citizens resist the truth, even when it was in front of them?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Most people find change hard. They prefer to keep things the same as they have always been, without needing to move to a new house or find a new job or learn to live with new neighbors. As a result, people will often choose to ignore situations or circumstances that might force them to face change in their lives.

The citizens of Sighet desparately wanted to believe that they were not in danger as the Nazi German Party increased its power. Even when the foreign Jews were seized and taken away, the native Hungarian Jews continued to tell themselves that they would be safe. The danger was far away, it appeared.

London radio, which we listened to every evening, announced encouraging news: the daily bombings of Germany and Stalingrad, the preparation of the Second Front. And so we, the Jews of Sighet, waited for the better days that surely were soon to come.

In addition to the distance from the fighting, the Jews could not imagine that anything of the scale that Hitler threatened was really possible. They felt there were too many Jews for him to actually attempt the things he suggested.

Annihilate an entire people? Wipe out a population dispersed throughout so many nations? So many millions of people! By what means? In the middle of the twentieth century!

As the German Army troops moved into Sighet, the first changes seemed relatively harmless, so they were accepted without undue alarm. By the time they forced the Jews to move into ghettos, and later forced them onto the trains for deportation, it was too late to organize any resistance.


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